NOTE: This post was written in July, 2017. There’s an update in July 2019 at the end.
This blog post relates to the near-term future
For me, Jason, and out of the box innovations. Those of you who know me understand my situation and the current company structure. I’m on the verge of a couple of big decisions. Those of you who do know me, know that I’m straightforward in my business dealings. What some founders or company representatives might deem as private, isn’t seen that way be me – if it affects my clients. Those of you who know me, I appreciate you, and you can skip the next section.
(For those who don’t know me)
Here’s a quick recap of the contextual background of what I’m about to say. You can then be up to date on the circumstances of the dilemma.
OOTBI is a limited company registered in the UK, but I reside between the UK and the Philippines. OOTBI is a remote working company, where we have outsourced contractors in different countries in three continents. I work from my Laptop and have until recently, chased the ‘location independent entrepreneur’ dream, or ‘lifestyle business’ philosophy.
Phrases like ‘oppression of an office cubicle’ and ‘work on your own terms’ had a significant impact on me. The novelty of these things certainly wear off, and over time, I have considered having a permanent office. A permanent residence, close to all of my family, not just my wife and children also appeals.
Those who know me can re-join here
So, recently, I’ve been thinking some serious thoughts about the future.
- How many potential clients have become discouraged when they realised I was in a developing country?
- How many potential clients have been dissuaded by the fact that I don’t have an office?
- How would I have focused if I had a regular work routine, in a stable environment?
- Working in a physical team can be distracting, but it can be motivational too, and no solopreneur loneliness.
Do I get an office? If so in which country? Will I keep outsourced staff?
You’re probably aware, OOTBI helps small to medium-sized energy companies with their online presence. That’s a reasonably narrow market sector for an industry like web design or SEO.
It’s even more niche than you might imagine. Due to user-friendly content management systems like WordPress, or DIY companies like Squarespace, anyone can put up a website. Many energy companies don’t need to expand their web presence. They trade through local networks, and they have a website because everyone has a website. I doubt that there’s anything that I could help Solar City or BP with when it comes to marketing.
Our market is small, but OOTBI has traded steadily and expanded in the last two years. How would we be doing with a brick and mortar office based in a major UK city? The same number of clients? I guess that we’d be a more significant company.
Do you believe in serendipity? The law of attraction? I think there is something to it, even if it is only related to focus, and what we notice in different mind states. A tempting example has just happened in my life.
So, I was thinking, if I get an office, how much cash would I need for deposit and advance rent, furniture and so on. I was wondering how many current clients are long term, and how many new ones might join if I had an office. Then within a few days, I started noticing funding ideas.
My regular bank offered us a loan, that might not seem strange, although OOTBI is at the end of its first two years as a start-up. The bank didn’t offer us a loan before. I investigated, and they want a business plan and some detailed financials, which is a bit of a distraction during a busy time.
It’s a Singapore based company, so while that makes a bit of sense while I’m in Asia. If my office ends up in the UK, then it might add some complications.
Hey – serendipity, prove you’re real and offer me an even more accessible and more suitable option, please. Preferably interest-free!
So, if you’re a potential client that has reservations about dealing with a remote working company, or with a location independent entrepreneur, please reach out. If you’re an existing client, who thinks that it doesn’t matter, or prefers things as they are then let me know too.
These types of topics are important and relevant to many of us in our businesses, so I hope you appreciate the openness here. No imminent decisions at this time, but I plan to write a few more ‘open the Kimono’ type posts like this.
It’s now July 2019 and two years since the original post. I’m now settled back in the UK with my wife and children.
We rented an OOTBI office for a year, and then relinquished it. I’d forgotten about the problems with commuting, lunch, following rules, filling in paperwork, and general freedom cramping constraints.
We didn’t borrow any money, preferring to bootstrap. Too many people get themselves into debt chasing business dreams. OOTBI is free to grow or stay the same, pivot into new products or services, and grow with re-invested profits rather than debt shackles. Yeah, I’ve read the Rich Dad Poor Dad books, I know about ‘good and bad bebt’. Right now, it would be bad debt.